Richard Branson condemns Uganda over anti-gay bill

Sir Richard Branson tips his hat on the tarmac at Perth Airport on May 7, 2013 in Perth, Australia.
Paul Kane

British tycoon and renaissance man Richard Branson is urging companies to boycott Uganda in light of a draconian anti-homosexuality bill passed last week.

The founder of Virgin denounced Uganda for passing a bill in parliament that could see homosexuality punished by life in prison.

"I have been courted by various people and government officials to do business in Uganda. I was seriously considering it," Branson wrote on his blog.

"However, the dreadful witch hunt against the gay community and lifetime sentences means it would be against my conscience to support this country."

He added on his blog: "Governments must realise that people should be able to love whoever they want."

The bill, which was first proposed in 2009, has yet to be signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

The original bill included the death penalty for certain offenses, including if the gay person had HIV or sex with a minor was involved but that clause has been removed.

The new bill makes it a crime to not report gays to police.

Supporters of the bill say that it seeks to protect family values that are being threatened by a West-based gay rights groups.

The draft law has been widely condemned by world leaders and Nobel Peace laureate archbishop Desmond Tutu compared it to apartheid.

US President Barack Obama has called the bill "odious"